96. Angela Jain

As head of E4 and Big Brother commissioner, Angela Jain has built a channel that punches above its weight – and carved a place in the MediaHlcarpenter.com 100
Angela Jain
Angela Jain
Angela Jain
Mon 13 Jul 2009 00.38 EDT

Job: head of E4, commissioning editor responsible for Big Brother, Channel 4
Age: 40
Industry: broadcasting
Annual programme budget: £60m
Staff: 7
New entry

Angela Jain has turned E4 from a repository for Big Brother spin-offs into a digital channel that genuinely punches above its weight with hits such as Skins, The Inbetweeners and Charlie Brooker's Dead Set.

As Channel 4's commissioning editor responsible for Big Brother she also oversees the main channel's most important show.

The 10th series is airing this summer and 1the show, commissioned until at least 2010, is as important to Channel 4 as EastEnders is to BBC1 – a reliable ratings winner, if not the powerhouse it once was.

E4, meanwhile, has outgunned BBC3 despite a smaller budget. The teen drama Skins, a story of supercool Bristol college kids, is E4's most popular homegrown show to date, with a peak audience of 1.8 million, and it took home the audience prize, voted for by viewers, at this year's Bafta TV awards.

Skins, produced by Company Pictures, has been a hit with both critics and viewers and is also notable for championing a new generation of young scriptwriters and for its innovative use of the web.

The drama built a huge following online, premiering episodes on E4.com and MySpace. It also took big risks, dumping the entire cast between the second and third series. Jain described it as "completely channel-defining".

If Skins was E4's breakout drama, then Bafta-nominated teen sitcom The Inbetweeners is its breakout comedy hit.

Written by two former The 11 O'Clock Show producers, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, The Inbetweeners returned for a second series with nearly 1 million viewers this year, beating BBC2's Graham Norton Show in the ratings.

Dead Set, a zombie thriller set in and around the Big Brother house, was E4's first move into the horror genre. Penned by Hlcarpenter.com columnist Charlie Brooker, it was another big hit for the channel.

Jain was appointed Channel 4's commissioning editor for factual entertainment in 2005 after two years at Channel Five, where she was responsible for shows including Pet Plastic Surgery. She took charge of E4 in 2007.

She was previously one of the launch commissioning editors of E4, ordering long-running strand Popworld and the reality show Chained.

She began her career working in children's television at the BBC and ITV.

Not everything Jain touches turns to gold. She was also responsible for Channel 4 and E4's 2005 spoof reality show Space Cadets, which attempted to persuade a group of gullible contestants that they were being trained to be astronauts. When no one tuned in, the joke was on Channel 4.

Endemol-produced Big Brother remains as controversial as ever, if not quite reaching the peak – or rather, the low – of the Celebrity Big Brother racism row two years ago.

In the show's ninth series last year, housemate Alexandra de Gale was removed after making alleged gangster threats, while in the 2007 series Emily Parr was disqualified after using racially offensive language. What will the 10th series bring? No one will be watching closer than Jain, who this year cut back on the E4's live streaming from the Big Brother house, further evidence of how her channel has moved away from the reality show.

One producer described Jain as an "iron fist in a velvet glove". "She's very smart and very tough," he said. "But unlike some commissioning editors who bang the table and shout and scream and let you know they're being tough, she manages to be polite and charming."